Saturday, November 27, 2010


Sin has left it's crimson stain...

He washed it white as snow

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I Left My Heart in North Carolina

I have been trying to come up with the words for this post for hours to explain how blessed this weekend turned out to be. But some things aren't well described in words. I'll do my best.

It was going to be a whirlwind weekend of visiting 3 places in just a little over 3 days and I wasn't sure how any of it would go. I was hoping for the best but anticipating the worst. God simply shattered my expectations.

Part 1: Finally face to face

I arrived at Courtney's early evening. It was supposed to be earlier but I got a little lost in the middle of a pitch black nowhere about 20 miles away. But I finally made it and ironically I wasn't nervous at all. I was warmly welcomed into "This is my family. We're like Italian, but not." The first thing I thought about Courtney was how beautiful she was in person and how she doubts it. (I am fully aware of the irony) That first night we all hung around in the living room, talking and laughing. Her nephew calling me Miss Tia and talking my ear off. Of course Stacey was there for me to get to know a little too, which was great. I was a little tired, but comfortable.

I do not generally handle changes in plans well. It tends to stress me out. Initially, I had planned to only spend one night there, but God had other plans. I didn't even blink an eyelash to having to stay another night. God knew before we did that more time was needed. That something truly special, even if it was a little hard at times, was going to happen. He knew he had designed this friendship to be something unique from the beginning. There was no where else I wanted to be that night.

The following day we talked. I played with the kids. I fell in love with the kids (but if you know me at all that isn't anything new). Cute. Sassy and quick witted. Dylan comes in from playing outside and says, "Tia, we know you like to run. Would you like to run around with us?" I ask, "Where are we running to?" "Around the house." So I got a little bit of a workout that way. Later the kids helped me do situps while one hung from my neck in front and the other pushed me up with their legs. It was quite fun and allowed Courtney a nap since she got up early for me.

Dylan and Ali

(i don't have the one of me and the kiddos yet to post)

We met up with Erin for dinner that night and I finally got to meet her too. She was chic and spunky and even though my time with her was short, it was nice to spend time with her. Back at Courtney's, I watched Toy Story 3 with the kids (the first half at least). After the kids went to sleep and Stacey had gone home for the night, Courtney and I stay up talking. It was honest and raw, funny and embarrassing at times. I felt God's presence with us, gently asking us to be brave and open. Little sleep was gotten that night, but something far more worthwhile happened. By the time I needed to leave that afternoon, it was the hardest thing to do. The kids kept asking if I was coming back later. I stalled as much as I could, because I knew when I pulled away I was leaving a piece of my heart there and I would need to find a way back as soon as possible. Just as I was about to get in the car, Ali came running out of the house and threw her little arms around me and squeezed a little more love in.

My life has been so altered by something as simple as an online book club. Some of these women are now my closest, most trusted friends. No one has pretended to be anything she isn't. These ladies have listened, loved, encouraged and shared their own stories. It has been so amazing to see the ways God knit relationships together through that medium. Thank you God for these women in my life, for the friendships I've always longed for. Help me be a good friend to them as well.

Part 2: A family reunion

For many years I was close with a family here in Michigan. Julie was my best friend and the kids Aaron and Abi felt like my own.

Abi and Aaron when I first loved them

When they moved away it was one of the saddest days of my life. I visited them in North Carolina 4 years ago for Thanksgiving and due to certain circumstances the relationship ended shortly after that. I was crushed and felt I had lost everything that meant something to me. I had no way to express to the kids that I wasn't abandoning them. It had been 4 long years.

God is a God of reconcilation and he used an 11 year old girl I love to get me to lay down the shield. I had been emailing with Abi and she wished she could see me. She remembered so many of the memories we made like dressing alike and watching sunsets together. And so 4 years later I reentered their lives. I wasn't sure at all if things would fall back into place or be silent and akward the whole time, but I trusted God was working.

The first night we seemed to be getting our bearing and reacclimating to that flow we used to have. Julie talked to me like there had been little break and I soaked it up. Before bed we had a little impromtu worship session with Aaron and I playing guitar.

After church on Sunday things settled. Abi and I went thru photos with all our memories in it. She showed me all the things I gave her she still had. She even sang me her newest song which was really good. Then I told Abi I was going to go spend some time with Aaron whether he wanted to or not. She said, "You are still his big sister."

I was able to pull Aaron away from the TV and got caught up on his life. Girls, school, music, friends, God and future. I asked him if he was mad at me for being gone for so long. He said he wasn't really mad, but... Finally he asked me why I hadn't been around for 4 years. I gently told him the truth as I knew it. I hugged him and told him I loved him dearly.

Just a little bigger now

A day and a half just wasn't long enough we all agreed. My Abi wasn't feeling so good. We ate dinner and watched a movie. Dave had blessed me by buying me some Diet Coke when he ran to the drugstore. I went all the way to dinner time without any! After the movie Aaron went upstairs to watch something else and eventually I followed him up.

We ended up watching some western that we couldn't quite grasp what was going on since we missed the beginning. On commercials I started to talk to him some more. Eventually he laid down on the floor with me and I started to run my hand through his hair like I used to. Told him he used to let me do it for hours. He said he still would. Eventually, he just turned the movie off and we talked. It was a hard conversation, but I wouldn't change it for the world. I got to look into that boys eyes and let him know that I loved him and that he isn't alone. Even at 17, I got to hug him tight. It was getting late and I needed to go to bed. There was a look in his eyes and I asked him what he was thinking. He simply said, "How much I've missed this." I don't know if it's possible for a heart to swell and break at the same time, but right then mine might have.

All I know is it won't be another 4 years this time. Gotta make up for some lost time.

Courtney.... that means you really are stuck with me! And I love it!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Twinkies, Ho-Hos, and Ding Dongs. Oh My!

My sister and I (like many siblings) speak our own language. Little inside jokes and movie quotes that send us into histerics while others (typically our parents) stare wondering what joke they just missed. My dad finds a show about the circus on TV and I say, "Why would you need to watch a show about the circus when you have one right here?" *giggles ensue*

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on which side you are on) my sister, Tiffany lives many hours to the cold north of me and we don't see each other all that often. This past weekend she was able to come home due to a work seminar close by. (the government is good for something)

Saturday was to be spent with my mom and new step-dad Wayne. We arrived around noon and after lunch and picking up some things for dinner, we went back to the house to hang out. I wanted to give my mom and sister a chance to talk and catch up, so I convienently took a nap. Or tried... because the clocks chiming every 15 minutes was a bit hard to sleep through. Then we had dinner. It was a good dinner... in theory. Steak, salad veggies and creamed potatoes. Except, when my sister went to get the milk to finish the cream sauce my mom pointed to the vanilla almond milk and thought nothing strange of that. Meanwhile, I am looking at my sister and she is looking at me. I am biting my tongue. Something like this was bound to happen... usually does. Overall, it didn't taste much different, but you could smell the vanilla and that kinda grossed me out.

As I mentioned, Wayne is new to the family. He hasn't spent much time around my sister and I and seen us dance, sing and get crazy. Tiff asked him after dinner if he was thinking, "Am I sure glad I had a boy." He said he was enjoying us and missed having voices around the house. I thought that was sweet.

In post dinner sleepiness things start to go downhill. When I am tired, they tend to go that way fast. My mom casually mentions that her 'honeybun' bought her jewelry on their honeymoon. Tiff asks my mom if her nickname is cupcake.

Enter tired Tia.

I take off on this theme and start with cinnimon roll, french toast, waffle.... How about bacon? Candian bacon? Tiff and I are both laughing. "Oh sauage patty, can I get your help?"

*Rolling now* Mom is looking at Wayne. He is looking at her. She says, "So glad they have their own sense of humor. I don't get it." Through fits of laughter I tell her it's not even that funny, but it's making us laugh which make it funny. Yeah... she didn't get that either.

Then I bring out the big guns. "Twinkie? Ho-Ho?" And Tiff responds with "Ding Dong."

We couldn't catch our breath.

I knew things would only get worse as the night went on and by the glazed bewildered looks in mom and Wayne's eyes they might not be able to take much more without having nightmares. We took our leave for the night and came home to laugh to ourselves until we fell asleep.

The following day we had breakfast with dad and planned on having Thanksgiving dinner that evening. After coming home to get some things done around the house, I went to my dad's for dinner. Even though it was a little early and a Sunday, everything else felt just like Thanksgiving. The turkey smelled great. The Lions played football and lost. Couldn't be more traditional.

Eventually, I had to leave even though my sister tried to lock me in the bedroom. It was a great weekend.

I love you, Tiff.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

One Year Ago

One year ago today...

I got up early in the morning after anxiously cleaning my house late into the evening before. After a bowl of cereal, I climbed into my car with directions and headed toward Orrville, OH where I was to meet face-face a woman I had gotten to know through an online book club. It was a beautiful warm fall day filled with deep and God-led conversation. When I left that evening and drove home I had no idea that the day was just the introduction in a longer story that is being written.

Since then...

She has become one of my dearest, most treasured friends. She has blessed me in countless ways through sharing her story, her prayers, hugs, tears and laughter. While we both turn another year older this month, we also move into another year of this friendship. We pray that God will continue to bless it and weave it in beautiful, unexpected ways.

Looking forward to another year of wonderful memories...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Art of Mooching

It’s official. My co-worker Ms. Sassy and I… we are professional mooches. A sweet smile, a well-timed hint and what guy could resist!?! Whether its diet cokes, slurpees, or lunches, we have it made. And no… we don’t feel bad. But we don’t take it for granted either, we genuinely appreciate it and make sure the guys know it. Then we help them out as much as we can.

Today, Ms. Sassy was craving some Thai food for lunch, but neither of us wanted to get it. I casually mentioned to Mr. Chatty 1 that Kelly was looking for someone to get her, I mean us, lunch today and wondered where he was going. (We didn’t want to be picky and demand he go where we wanted, we do have standards) God was listening because Mr. Chatty 1 called and asked if Thai food sounded good. Ummm… Yeah! Drunken Noodles for Ms. Sassy, which I tasted and it was yummy. For me, Pad Khing. I usually get a curry dish, but I went with something different today. Crazy! It was good too.

I do plan on giving Mr. Chatty 2 some grief about us getting lunch from Mr. Chatty 1. He has owed me a lunch for 4 years now and still hasn’t taken me. (In his defense, he keeps his frig stocked with diet coke and his office often contain licorice and lemon cookies for me) It’s important to still give him a hard time. Let him know that I see how high of a priority I am to him, while Mr. Chatty 1 follows through immediately. Now we know who is of what caliber *wink wink*.

Tia’s Quick and Easy Mooching Tips

1. Facial expression is very important. The best approach is generally the sweet and innocent look. Smile and bat your eyelashes just slightly. But if the day isn’t going so well, a harried, stressful about to cry look can often be equally as useful.

2. Develop a code word or phrase. Of course this will take some time and training, but saves time and hassle in the long run. My phrase of choice “Are you busy today?” or “How generous are you feeling?” With that and #1, I generally have a diet coke on my desk within a reasonable amount of time.

3. This of course is the most important rule if you wish to get more than one thing. SAY THANK YOU ALWAYS!

And just think the holidays are coming up…